EATEN ALIVE aka DEATH TRAP (1976) Reviews and overview

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‘Meet the maniac & his friend.’

Eaten Alive is a 1976 American horror film directed by Tobe Hooper, that was released in May 1977. It was Hooper’s first directorial assignment after The Texas Chain Saw Masscare.

It was filmed as Death Trap and then released under various alternate titles, including Legend of the Bayou, Horror Hotel, Slaughter Hotel and Starlight Slaughter.

Producers Alvin L. Fast and Mardi Rustam (Psychic Killer, Evils of the NightEvil Town) devised the film’s concept and it was largely written by Kim Henkel (The Texas Chain Saw MassacreButcher Boys).

The movie stars Neville Brand, Roberta Collins, Robert Englund (future Freddy Krueger), William Finley, Marilyn Burns, Janus Blythe and Kyle Richards.



A psychotic redneck who owns a dilapidated hotel in rural East Texas kills various people who upset him or his business, and he feeds their bodies to a large crocodile that he keeps as a pet in the swamp beside his hotel…


The scenario was loosely based on the story of Joe Ball (also known as the Bluebeard from South Texas or the Alligator Man) from Elmendorf, Texas, which occurred sometime after Prohibition ended. He owned a bar with an alligator pit serving as an entertainment attraction. Several murders of women ensued, but it was never proven that the flesh found in the pit was human. However, Joe did commit suicide upon the possibility of capture.

According to make-up artist Craig Reardon, cinematographer Robert Caramico directed several scenes due to creative differences between Tobe Hooper and the films’ producers. The numerous title changes and different versions of the film are explained by the movie’s box office failure and the fruitless search for a winning formula.

Death Trap – as it was known in the UK for its VHS release – became one of the so-called ‘video nasties’ during the early 1980s moral hysteria, although it was never prosecuted.

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“Although not as remorseless as its lurid predecessor, the film is far better than its neglect/dismissal would suggest. The scene in which a loveable little girl’s pet dog is swallowed by the crocodile deserves a place in any pantheon of sick cinema.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror, edited by Phil Hardy


‘Though the film never comes close to matching the intensity and sheer balls-to-the-wall terror that The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is so well known for it does have a similarly unseemly atmosphere to it that works really well.’ DVD Talk

“Eaten Alive is the true transition flick, the moment when a potential horror hero began turning into a fright film flop. But it’s not bad, just baffling. Ignore its obvious flaws and you’ll have a sleazy breezy exploitation experience.” DVD Verdict


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Cast and characters:

Neville Brand … Judd
Mel Ferrer … Harvey Wood
Carolyn Jones … Miss Hattie
Marilyn Burns … Faye
William Finley … Roy
Stuart Whitman … Sheriff Martin
Roberta Collins … Clara
Kyle Richards … Angie
Robert Englund … Buck
Crystin Sinclaire Crystin Sinclaire … Libby Wood
Janus Blythe … Lynette (as Janus Blyth)
Betty Cole … Ruby
Sig Sakowicz … Deputy Girth
Ronald W. Davis … Country Boy
Christine Schneider … Waitress
David Hayward … The Cowboy
David Carson … Marlo (as David ‘Goat’ Carson)
Lincoln Kibbee … First Guy in Bar
James Galanis … Second Guy in Bar
Tarja Leena Halinen … Miss Hattie’s Girl
Caren White … Miss Hattie’s Girl
Valerie Lukecart … Miss Hattie’s Girl
Jeanne Reichert … Miss Hattie’s Girl
Scuffy … Dog

Filming locations:

Raleigh Studios – 5300 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California

Technical details:

91 minutes
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1
Audio: Mono


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